Wednesday, August 8, 2012

TKP: Yoda and Being Available

It's time for another The Kindness Project post!

Lately, I've been thinking about something that I think falls under the heading of "kindness." It's the concept of being Available.

What does that mean? Well, let me tell ya!

I've got two daughters, and they take up a lot of my time. A lot. Both when they're with me and when they're not.

I think about them, analyze how I've handled situations, how I could've handled situations differently. Beat myself up a lot...

I also have this publishing career I'm trying to build. Writer-friends, you know how much mental and emotional investment that requires.

Recently, I was asked, "How do you balance it all?" My answer was, "Not very well." (But I'm trying!)

If I'm going to write, edit, revise, and make deadlines, I've got to be able to spend big chunks of time being unavailable to people--including my family. And that bothers me.

So I've been thinking about those times when I am available. And I've been trying to focus very hard on really being available, 100 percent.

That means not letting my mind drift to my email inbox or to the next scene in my WIP when, for example, my daughter is describing all the different characters and their relationships in Fairy World. (Her make-believe play world.)

Or not letting my brain obsess over whether I should even bother with finding a new agent right now, or whether I should just go with the book deal, see what happens, and then decide... or whether I should self-publish the MS my critters/betas loved but editors didn't buy...  or whether I should (insert obsessive publishing conundrum here) when, for example, JRM is describing a legal situation that's on his mind.

In other words, during those times when I'm physically available (or claim to be), I've been trying very hard to stay mentally available as well. To focus on the people I love and to give the book biz a rest.

Source
Once again, it all circles back around to Yoda and being a good Jedi. A Jedi is not always looking to the future, right? S/he focuses on the here and now.

"Do or do not. There is no try."

(Am I the only one who has this problem?)

Either way, that's my contribution for this month: When we're with our friends or loved ones, do them a kindness and BE with them. Who knows, it might even turn out to be a kindness to ourselves!

Have a great week, reader- and writer-friends! Be sure to visit the other TKP posters listed below~ <3



35 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I get ya. So many decisions to make but I agree with having time for family and giving 100 percent and then having time to write. It's not easy!

Lynda R Young said...

Being mentally available isn't always easy. I've been struggling to stay focussed lately. Those pesky deadlines have a way pulling those thoughts. But you are so right about the importance.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Love your new blog photo!

Anyone who claims they are balancing their writing life well with all aspects of their non-writing life is lying. :)

Matthew MacNish said...

It's a great point. I try to focus on what's at hand, especially when I'm with my family, but as a dreamer-type, it's hard sometimes to keep my mind from wandering. I'm lucky in that my kids are a teen and a tween, and rarely want to have anything to do with me or mom.

Old Kitty said...

Lovely LTM! Your new avatar pic is just gorgeous!!

Focusing is not my strongest point but I do try and I do hope I give 100% to whomever I'm with and whatever I'm doing! Take care
x

Summer Ross said...

Good advice. I have two girls also plus I'm trying to start a career in editing which means I spend a lot of time in someone else's MS. I want to focus more on really being in the moment with my girls when I can be. Thanks for posting!

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah I tend not to be there mentally sometimes, mind just goes elsewhere, should work on that.

Stephen Tremp said...

I've had to make it a habit to give the fam attention when they need it. I don;t want them to know me only by what the back of my head looks like.

Arlee Bird said...

Kindness should start at home.

Yesterday I wore a bright red Hawaiian shirt with gaudy foliage printed all over it. It seemed like people were unusually friendly and kind to me all day when I was out. Don't know what that means but I thought I'd throw that into the conversation.


Lee
Tossing It Out

Laurel Garver said...

I think everything in contemporary culture at large schemes together to make us all ADD. Being mentally present becomes more and more a mental discipline, and I guess the best thing is to treat it like any new skill you're trying to learn--practice and have patience with the learning curve. (Not like I have any actual experience gaining mastery over my attention! LOL. Just wanted to offer what encouragement I can.)

cleemckenzie said...

Very nice. Being available is really giving of your time, and what more valuable gift is there?

Carolyn Abiad said...

You make a very good argument here. I'm not a very good "No" person either. I end up with too many commitments. So maybe the best thing is to whittle down the to-do list and give 100% to each part in turn?

BTW - Jennifer Laughran kind of poo-pooed the idea of self-publishing unsold manuscripts. (I saw her at a conference and asked that very question.) She said we need to sell sooo many to make a difference, and that the time and energy should be spent on writing a stunning new ms instead.

BUT that's an agent's perspective, and there's an exception to every rule. ;)

lbdiamond said...

Excellent post!

Kelly Polark said...

I think most moms (writers or not) have trouble juggling all the reponsibiliites (and the guilt). We can only do our best! I do need to be reminded to be available to my husband and kids and pay attention. My mind is too full sometimes! :) Thank you for the reminder!

Claire Hennessy said...

Excellent reminder for me, thank you. I am often guilty of being somewhere other than where my feet are. And with kids especially, they can tell.

Michele Shaw said...

Yes, I struggle with the same things. I've had to put writing almost 100% on hold this summer to be available in the way I need to be for my kids. It hasn't been easy, but I know when they are grown I won't regret it.

Chris Fries said...

Hey Leigh! Love your new pic!

Being there is THE most important thing you can do for your kids, I think.

It can be hard when everything else is spinning around you at the speed of life, but like you said -- develop that Yoda-ness and invoke the Tao of Pooh, to, you know, take a moment or two to just be...

Wonderful post! ;^)

DEZMOND said...

I'm always available if the object of my love is available :)

KatOwens: Insect Collector said...

Leigh, you are NOT alone. I find myself struggling with this too (i am typing this while my kids watch a tv show. For shame!) i think this falls under the umbrella of multi-tasking, which i am beginning to suspect is a myth. :0). As you so smartly wrote on MY post, KNOWING is the first step. I think all the media and devices make it tough, but it's worth striving for.

M Pax said...

Writing is like three full-time jobs in one. When putting the peddle to the metal on one thing ... like finishing up a ms, pretty much everything else gets neglected. I'm not sure there's any such thing as perfect balance as an author. My husband's hoping I do laundry this week. When I do talk to him, it's all about writing stuff. I need to remedy that.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I've really struggled with this issue of availability, too. Publishing is a tough business in general, but I also have an obsessive personality. It's easy for me to invest a lot of my time and energy to my writing, which isn't right when you have a family. I have to work really hard to pull away from it, and not because I don't love my family. It's just the guilt! When I'm writing, I feel guilty I'm not with them, when I'm with them, I feel guilty I'm not writing. So issues of availability are often tied to guilt for me. But I'm working on it, trying to allot time just for both, trying really hard to focus and be present at whatever I'm doing at the time I'm doing it. My family deserves my availability and presence of mind. Great post, Leigh.

Theresa Milstein said...

We writers should discuss this more. Mental availability is crucial to our children, and I bet they can tell when our minds drift. I vow to be more present for them as well.

Sounds like you have a lot to mull over with your book. If you ever need an ear, email me.

Sara B. Larson said...

Oh man, it is so hard to balance it all. And I pretty much feel like I'm failing most of the time. But this is a great reminder to try and make a better effort. Thank you for this post!

Kari Marie White said...

Oh man, It's not just balance I suffer from. I have a huge problem with staying present in my life. My brain is forever everywhere else except where I am at the moment. I used to blame it on my ability to multi-task. Total cop-out. I've had to force myself to live in the moment and consider what that really means. "Do or do not" is my new motto. I don't always succeed but I'm headed in the right direction.

Kittie Howard said...

Great post! And, oh, but I hear ya! Sometimes I have to step back, take a deep breath and re-focus. Some of this tech stuff was driving me nuts until I realized it was all too much and let some of it go (FB and Twitter - TMI)! Anyway, keep doing what you're doing, girl! You're right, your daughters come first. (Hard to believe it's almost Geaux Tigers time!)

Clarissa Draper said...

I'm trying to do that too and it's really difficult. I find I'm feeling guilty a lot because I haven't spent enough time with my family. I think, for me, I have to set scheduled time and stick to it.

LTM said...

@Carolyn--Whittling the "to do" list is probably a good place to start. I know it is for me! Actually, old agent was open to me SP'ing unsold MS. I guess they're all different? Thanks, girl! :o) <3

@LBD--Thanks, girl! :o) <3

@Chris--Hey, thanks! Amateur photogs unite! I just put a bunch of pix up at WANA Commons, fyi, if you need some. Free for all! And how did I forget the Tao of Pooh! I love that book. :o) <3

@Kari--That's the spirit! I tell you, it takes practice to get back to that focus mentality. Since I've been paying attention to my paying attention--LOL!--I've noticed it's easy to get back into the habit of actively listening. :o) <3

@Kittie--Thanks! And I think you've touched on a big part of the problem. All the tech tends to rattle the brain. But we can get the focus back. (And yes. Geaux time... LOL! ;o)

@Clarissa--I know, right? Sometimes at night, after everyone's asleep, I'll think, "Tomorrow I'll do better." Then the next night I think the same thing--Gah!!! But it can be done! Scheduling will probably help. :D <3

Heather said...

You've done me a kindness. That was exactly what I needed to hear today. I'm off to be available for my hubby. Thank you!

LTM said...

Awesome, Heather! I bet that's a win-win situation. ;o) <3

Wendy Ramer, Author said...

I was just thinking this the other day as I realized my 11-yr-old daughter is slipping into adolescence and I'm about to miss it! Thanks for reinforcing it :-)

Talli Roland said...

Such great advice, and something I'm definitely going to try to hang onto in the future!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

You are so right. I find it hard to be completely mentally shut-off from the writer aspect of my life. It's always running like a background program in my head. It's a problem I need to work on!

Jemi Fraser said...

Love this Leigh! Real people have to come before fake people - and when you're with them, be with them. Gread advice :)

Angela Felsted said...

I also need to work on being available. I feel like I don't do a very good job. My mind is often elsewhere when it needs to be in the here and now.

LTM said...

I'm seeing it's something we all struggle with, Angela. I guess it's one of those occupational hazards! :o) <3